The greatest trick Kevin Gausman ever pulled was convincing the Nationals of a pitch that didn’t exist.
After days of talk about how Gausman was ready to add his curveball and cutter back into his inventory, he shut down the Nationals on the same old 4 seamer and splitter he’s used all season. Gausman went 7+, allowing 5 hits, while walking none and striking out 8. Two of the hits came leading off the top of the 8th; one scored after his subsequent departure.
The Braves got all they needed early, as Nick Markakis drove in the first 2 runs with a 2 out single in the 1st. I’m in the camp that wants to see Johan Camargo get more at-bats, but it’s hard to see what more we could ask from Nick, who came in at .290/.363/.440.
The Braves could not take further advantage of spot starter Joe Ross, however, until Josh Donaldson hit a solo home run in the 6th. In the 7th, off Javy Guerra, Ronald Acuna Jr. scored from first on a Freddie Freeman double, smartly deking the Nationals into throwing home by taking a dive coming around 3rd. This allowed Freddie to cruise into 3rd, where he scored on a Donaldson single. Acuna removed all doubt with a 2 run homer in the 8th.
The Braves split the series, put 4 more games with the Nationals behind them, and maintain their 6.5 game lead. Kansas City comes to town Tuesday at 7:20 for the first of a 2 game series; Dallas Keuchel vs. Danny Duffy scheduled. Natspos delenda est.